BBC appears ‘cowardly’ for censoring Jo Brand joke, David Baddiel says

Baddiel created Heresy, the Radio 4 show on which Brand made the controversial remarks.
Baddiel created Heresy, the Radio 4 show on which Brand made the controversial remarks.

The BBC appears “cowardly” after censoring Jo Brand’s controversial joke about throwing battery acid over politicians, comedian David Baddiel has said.

Brand’s remarks, on Radio 4 programme Heresy on Tuesday, sparked an outcry, with Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage among the critics.

The Metropolitan Police said it is assessing Brand’s comments following an allegation of incitement to violence.

However Baddiel, who created Heresy, said the BBC was wrong to edit the joke out of a repeat of the programme.

Jo Brand
Jo Brand apologised for her joke about throwing battery acid over politicians (Ian West/PA)

Speaking to Newsnight, he said: “I don’t think I would have nipped it out. Morally wrong? I’m not sure. I think they’re just trying not to cause trouble.

“The BBC are still to some extent the aunty of the nation and they don’t like trouble. Even though they did commission a show, Heresy, that was designed to push the boundaries of what people might think and say.

“If it was up to me, I would have kept that line in for the repeat. Apart from anything, it’s a bit silly when it’s had massive coverage to cut it out – that looks a bit cowardly.”

Brand has since apologised for the joke, describing it as “crass and ill-judged”.

The BBC said it regretted any offence caused by the radio programme, which was never intended “to encourage or condone violence”.

The corporation said comedy would “always push boundaries”, but added that it would edit the Heresy programme, which is hosted by Victoria Coren Mitchell.

In reply to a question about the state of UK politics, Brand had told the programme: “Well, yes, I would say that but that’s because certain unpleasant characters are being thrown to the fore and they’re very, very easy to hate and I’m kind of thinking ‘Why bother with a milkshake when you could get some battery acid?’

Nigel Farage
Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage has criticised Jo Brand over a controversial joke (Joe Giddens/PA)

“That’s just me. I’m not going to do it, it’s purely a fantasy, but I think milkshakes are pathetic, I honestly do, sorry.”

On Wednesday, Mr Farage, who had a milkshake thrown at him while campaigning in Newcastle, accused Brand of inciting violence, although he did not say who against.

Commenting again on Twitter, he said: “I am sick to death of overpaid, left-wing, so-called comedians on the BBC who think their view is morally superior.

“Can you imagine the reaction if I had said the same thing as Jo Brand?”

The Press Association understands that the allegation reported to the police was not made by Mr Farage or the Brexit Party.